Seabury Hall will rejoin the eight-player football ranks in the Maui Interscholastic League this fall, coming back to the sport that the Spartans once dominated, for the first time since 2018.
The Spartans won the first three MIL crowns in the sport from 2012-14, but dropped out of the league before the 2019 season, the last time there was a full season played in the sport due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seabury Hall fielded a team in the fall of 2021 that practiced and played an intrasquad game at the end of the campaign. When play begins in August or September, the Spartans will be back amongst a four-team MIL along with Molokai, Lanai and Hana.
“It’s really a blessing to have the opportunity to get the program back up and going,” first-year coach Nathan St. Cyr said on Wednesday. “We just, all of us, from (head of school) Maureen Madden all the way down through the teachers on campus, through the parents, there’s something about football in the fall.
“We just have not just a passion for football, but I think as importantly we have a passion for what football can do in student-athletes’ lives, the teaching that it provides. So, we’re really excited to get the energy that football brings back on campus. Not just for the players, but for the entire campus.”
St. Cyr was a standout high school linebacker at Elk River High School in Minnesota in the 1990s. He has kept his passion for the sport alive since moving to Maui in 1995 after meeting his eventual wife as a freshman at Pepperdine University.
“To provide that avenue for the student-athletes to compete in — it’s a unique sport that provides unique teaching opportunities,” St. Cyr said. “My high school football career, I guess all the way up through youth football, that’s where I found a lot of mentors and role models. Football provided me with that structure and guidance that has really, really helped shape my life.”
St. Cyr; Tom Kellogg, a teacher at the school; veteran Maui youth coach Ed Gilarski; and former Seabury Hall standout quarterback Jaxson Stinger, who was 18-0 as the Spartans’ three-year signal caller and the 2014 MIL Player of the Year, took over as coaches in the fall after the COVID pause spelled the end of the previous staff.
” ‘Friday Night Lights,’ our community, our stands would fill, it was an event,” St. Cyr said of his prep career. “That’s what we all strive for. I was an all-conference linebacker and just really learned a lot about life — all of the structure and being part of a team, learning leadership, all of those things.
“It’s really affected my life. As I’ve moved through life it’s one of the things that I attribute a lot of my success to.”
He played two seasons for the Kihei Heat in the short-lived Hawaii Football League in the late 1990s, scratching a playing itch he missed after choosing a university that did not have the sport.
“When I came to Maui, because I didn’t play football in college, I probably dream about football three to five times a week,” St. Cyr said.
The head coaching job at Seabury Hall has been a while in the making for St. Cyr.
“I reached out to volunteer a couple times and the program was either going through a transition or what have you, so it hadn’t worked out until this year,” St. Cyr said. “My daughter is first year at Seabury, she’s sixth grade, so I reached out again at the beginning of the season and said, ‘I’m passionate about what the game of football can do and I’d love to help in any way that I can.’ “
Seabury Hall athletic director Scott Prather invited St. Cyr to the staff and “within a week of that the coaching staff decided they were not going to live with the COVID policies in place and coach, so Seabury found themselves without a coaching staff.”
Prather put together the coaching foursome that finished the 2021 season, which was limited to intrasquad action only. There was one game at the end of the season, where just two seniors — Noah Reisenauer and Josh Segal — were honored after the game.
“The COVID policies last year were changing quite quickly and so we were adapting,” St. Cyr said. “We didn’t know if we’d be able to have contact and so we started out with about 30 kids and then as the season progressed and we made progress on the COVID front and we were able to move into contact. We set an intrasquad, end-the-year scrimmage date and started moving into teaching the kids the fundamentals of contact football.
“We put together a great plan for the kids and were able to finish the year with some semblance of a pretty fun game situation where we were able to invite all the parents and finish out the year strong with about 20 guys.”
Now, the Spartans are set to be back in the fall to compete against other teams.
“This fall we expect to have 25, I have like 28 on my sign-up sheet,” St. Cyr said. “So until we get to campus with the eighth graders coming up to ninth grade, that will kind of be the number that gets us to where we want to be, which is that 30 range.”
St. Cyr said the game is important to communities like Hoolehua, Lanai City, Hana and Olinda, too.
“I just believe that the game of football is unique in what it does for not just the student-athlete, but the energy that gets created around it within the community,” St. Cyr said. “So when we look at the community and we start with the team and then we move outward to the families of the team. And then you move out to the school and where the school is located, it’s really an awesome opportunity to bring people together.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org.